The Swedish government has decided to allow the sale of Vattenfall's coal for someone else to burn rather than committing to keep it in the ground. That's what climate science and their signature to the Paris Agreement demands. It’s clearer than ever that we need to step up our own actions to prevent the climate crisis and hold our governments to their climate promises.
From increasing pressure to divest from fossil fuels through to peacefully and disobediently shutting down the projects that actively worsen the climate crisis - it's time for us to escalate our actions together. Sign up now to find out what happens next.
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I pledge to keep up the pressure on Sweden and the world's governments until they take the necessary action to keep fossil fuels in the ground
Let your friends know you have taken this pledge. Share on your social media about why this matters to you. Reach out to your friends, neighbors, family and explain why this matters to you and how they can join. #keepitintheground
And of course there’s more you can do! In the context of the Swedish decision to approve the sale of Vattenfall’s coal, we’d like to give you our view of where this movement might be going. We need everyone to be informed and engaged and so we’ve listed just a few of the ways in which we can keep the pressure on in coming months.
1. Keep the German lignite in the ground.
Lignite mining is still ongoing right now in Germany. The world’s largest industrial diggers continue to gouge out the earth to extract the dirtiest form of fossil fuel. But resistance is fertile, especially since the huge Ende Gelände action in May where over 4000 people came from all across Europe to demonstrate that people power can shut down these operations.
The Swedish government just failed to take responsibility for some huge lignite mines, but there are also countless public institutions that invest in these kind of projects. It’s time for cities, universities and pension funds to stop investing in the climate change and exploitation that follows in the footsteps of this industry. It’s time to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in the solutions.
Thousands of divestment campaigns have spread rapidly across the world, achieving huge successes in a short timeframe. In recent weeks and months 5 European capitals have committed to divest from oil, coal and gas companies: Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and Oslo.
We must keep up the financial and social pressure on the fossil fuel industry from all sides – so get involved by asking your city, your university, your faith group, your pension fund etc to withdraw their support from this industry.
As a result of the campaigning to stop Vattenfall’s sale of its German lignite our movement is now stronger than ever – we’ve learnt new tactics, we’ve grown in confidence and in numbers. Together over the coming months and years we can can stand up together to all sorts of other controversial projects and government decisions that take us further away from tackling climate change. Through our words and deeds let’s keep building the strength of our movement, and ensure that keeping fossil fuels in the ground becomes the norm.
An example of a protest that took place in Stockholm against the fossil fuel industry and infrastructure that’s incompatible with stopping climate change is Vägs Ändeand another project to stop the sale is the court case Magnoliamåletwhere people are suing the Swedish state. Join in or organise your own protests!
Submit your own story.What does the coal deal mean to us? Why will YOU do what it takes to keep fossil fuels in the ground?
“Sweden’s breach of the Paris agreement shows that governments won’t keep their promise to prevent climate catastrophe unless we make them. It’s up to us, ordinary people, to make sure the fossil fuels we simply cannot burn stay in the ground and push for a just transition away from fossil fuels.”
Olivia Linander, Swedish campaigner at 350.org
On July 2, the Swedish government approved the sale of state-owned energy company Vattenfall’s lignite operations in Germany to Czech buyer EPH. Instead of stopping the deal, the government announced they will engage in carbon emissions trading. Read 350’s response.
The Paris Agreement aimed to strengthen the global response to climate change by limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C. It stated that parties were agreeing to engage in international cooperation in order to mobilise stronger climate action. As climate scientists Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Johan Rockström suggested, stopping the sale of Vattenfall was a huge opportunity for collaboration between Germany and Sweden for ambitious climate action. Instead, Sweden is treating climate change as a national issue and abandoning responsibilities for its liabilities, regardless of the resulting emissions.
The Swedish government helped justify the sale by stating that real emissions reductions would be made via carbon trading, rather than working with assets it owns to stop fossil fuels being extracted in the first place. Hindered by its mind-boggling complexity, carbon trading has done nothing to reduce emissions to date, but has resulted in billions more profit for the companies emitting the most.
The buyer EPH has a dubious track record when it comes to workers rights and environmental practices, and has no written sustainability policies. The Swedish government declared that it could find no reason to stop the sale of the coal to EPH, despite the fact that under its own rules, state-owned company Vattenfall must consider how the buyer relates to questions of sustainability (see Greenpeace’s recent report).
But the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground is growing in strength and determination…
This May, over 4000 took part in mass civil disobedience in Vattenfall’s lignite mines in Germany to stop operations and keep the coal in the ground. Watch and see what happened:
In the same month, tens of thousands of people took part in bold and beautiful actions around the world as part of Break Free 2016.